Lehighton School Board members were brought up to date on Monday night on the Lehighton Middle School's efforts to curb bullying in the school and community.
Michael DeAngelo, assistant principal at the middle school, presented a power point presentation that highlighted a recent program that was offered to both middle school and elementary students that empowered children to stop bullying.
DeAngelo said that recently students spent most of a day learning about bullying and the effects. He said the students first engaged in a lesson plan and then took part in the Box Out Production in-school assembly program that reinforced the earlier lesson plan. To continue the anti-bullying message, DeAngelo said students were given a notebook that they can refer to whenever they see a bullying situation happening around them.
"We all take this problem to heart," said DeAngelo, referring to the board and his fellow teachers.
DeAngelo said that students seem to be realizing that bullying behavior is wrong.
"This program gives the students' responsibility for their own behavior," he said. He unveiled signs that will be going up throughout the district, "Be Safe, Be Respectful and Be Responsible."
DeAngelo said that he has initiated a "bully box" where students are encouraged to write a note that tells him where there is a problem.
"I want to know more than a name," he said. "I need to know what happened, and when and where."
DeAngelo said that the anti-bullying campaign will make the schools a nicer place to be.
"We want to help the victim and the bully, because the bully may need help because of their own problems," he said. "The youngsters that are bullies may be being bullied at home and are acting out on their feelings."
"The message of telling an adult to stop the bullying problem seems to be working," he said.
Also making a presentation was Gloria Bowman, director of curriculum, instruction and grant writing. She updated the school board on the school district's PSSA results. She said that she has been tracking efforts for five years to bring up students' reading and math scores and said that overall the students' reading and math scores are improving. She noted that Franklin Elementary and the high school's scores did not meet the target of 63 percent proficiency in 2009-10, but that Franklin school's low score was due to including the scores of several district special education classes in the total. In the high school, scores were low in reading and math last year after meeting standards in 2008-09. Scores were also at a warning level in the high school in 2007-08.
She said that the staff has formulated strategies to improve PSSA scores in the elementary, middle and high school with remediation, tutoring and summer reading programs.
She said that staff are dedicated to helping students improve their reading and math comprehension.
The board also approved a trip request of Doug Bowman and Mike Feifel to take a group of 100 students to visit the Air and Space Museum and Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 6, but turned down Dave Perkins' request to take 34 members of the high school chorus to the LaserDome in Lancaster on Nov. 5. In both instances, the students were to pay their own way.
"I'm concerned about leaving at 10:30 p.m. and returning at 6 a.m.," said Tim Tkach, high school principal. "I concerned that it is a safety issue."
The board voted to pay bills of $1,170,569 and to approve a second payment of $41,070 to Spezialetti Contracting for the high school masonry project.
Also approved were the following programs: Sherry Smith to use the high school soccer fields on Oct. 2 and 3 for Olympic Day; Mike Gornick, Lehighton Area Booster Club Wrestling, to use the high school gymnasium on Jan. 9, Jan. 23, and Feb. 6 for home matches; and for Todd Weaver, high school softball, to use the high school gym and halls for offseason conditioning on Sundays, from Nov. 7 to Feb. 27.